The Seattle Post-Intelligencer wins my article of the day award today for its piece on the federal case filed against W.R. Grace & Co. for its mismanagement of asbestos-contaminated minerals in Libby, Montana. The PI first broke this story in 1999 and today’s installment is an excellent update.
The story is a double reminder. First, cleaning up toxic messes is hundreds of times more costly, in terms of money and human lives, than preventing them in the first place. Pollution prevention is conservative, and those who oppose it are anti-growth.
Second, like my last pick, the disturbing chronicle of Grace’s malfeasance shows that the profit motive is, if powerful, also amoral. Unchanneled by strong laws and strong enforcement, it can overwhelm frailer safeguards such as personal morality and professional ethics.